Sunday, August 10, 2008
Movie Reviews: PINEAPPLE EXPRESS & STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS
Stoner Dale Denton's (Seth Rogen) enjoyment of a rare strain of marijuana may prove fatal when he drops his roach in a panic after witnessing a murder. Upon learning that the fancy weed can be traced back to them, Dale and his dealer (James Franco) go on the lam, with a dangerous drug lord (Gary Cole) and crooked cop (Rosie Perez) hot on their heels.
Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Danny R. McBride
Director: David Gordon Green
Opened August 6, 2008
Runtime: 1 hr. 45 min.
Rated R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence
Genres: Action Comedy, Buddy Film, Comedy, Stoner Comedy
Pineapple Express has a certain rhythm and momentum that reminds me of so many stoner friends of the past. Director David Gordon Green, in a real departure from his typical fare, directs the film with a fun free flowing spirit that is infectious in its first half but fades slightly as it heads toward its conclusion. Seth Rogen and James Franco make a great on screen duo with some genuine chemistry. Franco is the real star here and delivers a perfect performance. His oily stringy haired Saul is barely coherent most of the time yet there is a certain sincerity to his character that gives what could have been a very one dimensional character some real depth. Rogen works perfectly as the man child foil to Franco's Saul. Rogen plays Dale as a slightly above pathetic level human being who is swimming along in life just perfectly until his life gets turned upside down. Danny McBride has a fun supporting role as Red. McBride is kind of like a combo of Franco's and Rogen's character rolled into one. He has a wonderful ability to persevere and survive throughout as showcased in one of the many laugh out loud fight sequences. The fight sequences are contained moments of comic genius that just hit mark. While the majority of the movie is uproariously hilarious there are moments that miss the mark, more so than other Apatow produced films. There is a tonal shift in the final act that really changes the flow of the movie. What was a buddy road movie goes gory and become and action comedy of sorts. It's a strange shift and kind of kills the movies flow. Even with the odd shift towards the end it's a strange fun trip that's more than worth the ride.
STAR WAR: THE CLONE WARS
Star Wars: The Clone Wars showcases an entirely new look and feel to the galaxy far, far away--combining the expansive scope of the Star Wars Saga with state-of-the-art computer-generated animation. On the front lines of an intergalactic struggle between good and evil, fans young and old will join such favorite characters as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padmé Amidala, along with brand-new heroes like Anakin's padawan learner, Ahsoka. Sinister villains--led by Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous--are poised to rule the galaxy. Stakes are high, and the fate of the Star Wars universe rests in the hands of the daring Jedi Knights. Their exploits lead to the action-packed battles and astonishing new revelations that fill Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Cast: Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson,
Anthony Daniels, Matthew Wood
Director: Dave Filoni
Opens Friday, August 15, 2008
Runtime: 1 hr. 30 min.
Rated PG for sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary
Genres: Sci-Fi Action, Space Adventure, Science Fiction
Star Wars: The Clone Wars brings a nice sense of fun back to the Star Wars universe, something mostly lacking from the tedious live action prequels. Visually the film has a wonderfully engagingly stylized look that fun to watch. The characters move in a slightly clunky manner that I can only assume is a creative decision because with the level of technology is clearly apparent. Director Dave Filoni does a good job of keeping the story simple and moving it along at a brisk pace. It rarely lingers too long on any scene or sequence and keeps the action coming throughout. The space battles are standard Star Wars and feel just as impressive as their live action counterpart. Still it does lack any real sense of danger or dramatic tension as the film veers closer to kiddy territory than more complex story telling. It's not a terrible decision but it does feel as if the film wants to more complicated but never takes the risk and plays it safe. The script relies too heavily on shoe horned goofy humor that mostly misses the mark, sapping most dramatic moments of any real pop. While the addition of a spunky teenager to the cast could have been a major disaster it isn't as bad as it could have been. The voice cast, some reprising their roles from the live action films, do well in their roles even if at time some of the dialogue feels stilted. Anakin Skywaker, as voiced by Matt Lanter plays him more heroic and fun than his live action counterpart. Lanter and Ashley Drane, who voices Anakin's padawan Ahsoka Tano, do share some good interactions and share a fun chemistry. James Arnold Taylor does a nearly perfect impersonation of Ewan Mcgregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and like Lanter gives the character a more fun sense to him. Christopher Lee's deep baritone returns as Count Dooku and gives the film some much needed credibility. Considering this film kicks off a forth coming TV series the film does feel unfinished and open ended. Still it's a fun trip to the movies making the return to the Star Wars universe mostly worthwhile.